Zoya Magical PixieDust Nori

As soon as I saw this color announced on Zoya’s website, I knew I wanted to wear it for my birthday. <3 Ah, Zoya. It’s one of my favorite brands these days. So many amazing colors!

This is two coats Zoya Magical PixieDust Nori, from the winter 2014 Wishes collection. No top coat, in indoor fluorescent light:

It’s a topaz-/royal-blue jelly loaded with what looks to me like fine silver and holo glitters, as well as a smattering of silver round glitters and larger holo hexes. It’s reasonably opaque in two coats and easy to work with, using the pretty standard-sized Zoya brush. No special glitter placement technique needed!

Like the other PixieDust polishes, this one is textured, though it’s not as chunky as you might expect with the glitter. On me, it dried almost as smooth as a regular glitter polish with top coat, so it might be a good choice for people who aren’t generally into textured polishes but like the look. I bet it’d smooth out beautifully with a good top coat.

Unfortunately, my phone camera didn’t capture all the delicious rainbow goodness from the holo glitters, and in person, the polish is much sparklier by at least three times. It’s really eye-catching, especially in brighter light. I wish I’d been able to capture better photos, but it’s been storming and raining here, so I had to settle for meh indoor lighting. (That’s probably my cue to go build myself a light box!)

Anyway, durability is good on this polish, even without top coat. I’ve been wearing it since Sunday, and I hardly see any tip wear. Pretty great.

I also have Thea (the amethyst-purple Magical PixieDust) from the Wishes collection, though I’ll probably do something more Christmas-y for next week before I get around to swatching that one. :]

Wishing you all a warm and safe holiday season!

Julep December 2014 Maven Box: The Countdown Collection, Modern Beauty (with promo code)

I finally got my December Julep Maven box in the mail yesterday! I haven’t had much time to polish my nails lately, with how busy I’ve been, so I decided to go with the Modern Beauty box this month. Here’s what I got:

julep141212

The Modern Beauty December 2014 Julep box, which came in two boxes (the eyeshadow shipping separately, for some reason), and wrapped in gold-flecked white tissue paper and purple paper crinkles:

  • Orbital Eyeshadow – I went with Zenith, the bronze/gold color (“[c]ocoa with gold pearlescence”)
  • Blank Canvas mattifying eye primer
  • The Countdown Collection description card, which included no extra discount codes this month
  • This month’s quote card: “No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.” – Amy Poehler
  • 30% off code – THIRTYOFF, and
  • 2 Red Bird Southern Refresh-Mints, the old-fashioned, chalky kind you sometimes get at restaurants – Mr. ‘Fiend and I ate them right away :]

julep141212c

And the add-ons I picked this month:

  • Stroke of Midnight set, with Kristy (“[m]idnight blue crème” – the blue’s so dark, it looks almost black!) and Amira (“[s]ilver chunky holographic glitter top coat” – so pretty)
  • Silk Effect Top Coat because I love Julep’s silk finish polishes and wanted to try this out, and
  • Gel Eye Glider Sharpener (the funny oblong black-and-silver thing next to the peppermint candies) because, maybe because I use makeup so rarely, I actually didn’t have a good eye pencil sharpener yet, and this one’s got a cap for catching the shavings!

Because I picked up three add-ons, I also got a Blank Canvas plumping lip primer as a freebie. Nice!

I’m so glad that nothing was missing from my box this time. I hope this means Julep’s new distribution center is up to speed and can now handle orders competently!

Here’s the Orbital Eyeshadow in all its opened glory. It arrived in perfect condition, and the plastic case (which has a mirror set in the lid!) feels sturdy and well made, though the clasp is a bit stiff. I suppose that’s a good thing, since that means it’ll likely stay securely closed in a bag! The color’s, sadly, not as saturated of an orange gold-bronze as I’d expected from Julep’s promo pics (it’s a more muted golden color, like in the photo I posted below), but I’m still pretty excited to try it out.

julep141212b

I know I haven’t been posting swatches as much lately – been too busy with work and planning for ‘Fiend Jr.’s impending arrival to polish nails – but I’ll have some time over the holidays, and I’m planning on posting a comparison between the matte and silk finish top coats sometime in the near future. :]

Nicole by OPI Gumdrops My Cherry Amour

I’ve had this polish sitting around untried for a while, and I have no idea why I’d never gotten around to wearing it. It’s amazing! I finally ended up trying it out because I wore a black dress for a friend’s wedding and wanted something bright and contrasting to keep my ensemble from looking too heavy.

I love textured polishes, and this one’s a fantastic one with a semi-sheer berry-colored (pink/purple) jelly base and a relatively fine texture (similar to, though maybe a tad coarser than, Zoya PixieDust) mixed with a fine holo glitter. My photos don’t quite capture it, but the holo effect is fantastic and really gives off a subtle, scattered rainbow sparkle throughout. The base dries a nice, squishy-looking semi-matte in the way of jellies, without dampening the shiny of the glitter.

Here’s two coats of Nicole by OPI My Cherry Amour from the Gumdrops line, no top coat, photographed in outdoor natural light:

Something about the color made it impossible for me to photograph correctly – at least on my phone, which I use for most of my swatch photos. The color looks almost hot pink in the photo, but in life, the color is more like what you see in the bottom of the bottle, toward the bottom right corner of the above image. It’s bluer toned, purpler – kind of an intense raspberry jam color.

Here’s another shot in natural light:

Again, it wouldn’t come out as anything but neon rose in my photos, but I promise you it was purpler and a bit deeper in life. The formula is flawless, and even with the fat OPI brush that I find a tad clumsy to use on my smallish nails, I had no problems applying it easily. No complaints about anything regarding this polish, seriously. It’s so juicy-looking that it really cheered me up whenever I caught sight of my nails during the day.

Here’s another shot in the shade, again in natural light, though it still came out neon:

I also tried indoor artificial light, as well as my iPad and my real camera, but the color just will not photograph right! I suppose I could color correct in Photoshop, but it’s not the same. Ah, well. You’ll just have to take my word for it – go by the bottle color in my top photo, bottom right corner. :]

I think this color is still readily available in stores, and it’s not particularly new (or in-season) at this point, so it should be easy to find it on clearance or at a significant discount. I bought my bottle for $3.99 at an Ulta. Totally worth it.

SpaRitual Intuition

Today’s catch-up day, since I’ve been neglecting the blog so much.

Another quickie. Here’s three coats SpaRitual Intuition from the Illuminate collection (last year’s holiday collection), topped with one coat Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat.

Direct sunlight:

In shade (natural light:

Intuition is a somewhat sheer grape-candy purple with dense glass-fleck shimmer that shifts from magenta to blue, depending on the angle and lighting. Reasonably opaque (though not completely so) in three coats, and I’m sure it’d be awesome over black or another dark base color. Lovely. No complaints about the formula or the brush, which is fairly standard (non-wide). I like the rubbery grips on the SpaRitual caps, which make polishing extra easy. I also noticed that this polish is less smelly than most other polishes, which I appreciate because I have a sensitive sniffer like a dog’s.

SpaRitual’s polishes typically go for $12 a bottle, though I snagged this one on clearance for maybe half that. I only own a couple SpaRitual polishes at the moment, but so far, I’ve found they’re a great value for the quality of polish.

Julep Dana, Ledi, Tia, and black cat nail decals

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’m still around. I’ve just gotten a bit busy with life stuff to keep up as frequently with this blog, but I’ll still be posting when I have a chance. :]

Anyway, quick post-mortem on my Halloween nails this year, using polishes and nail decals from the Julep October 2014 Black Magic collection:

  • Julep Dana (2 coats) on the index,
  • Julep Ledi (2 coats) & Julep Tia (1 coat) on the middle,
  • Dana (2 coats) with a Julep black cat nail decal on the ring, and
  • Ledi (2 coats) on the pinky,

all topped with Julep Freedom top coat. This is in natural light:

I was rushed when I painted these right before Halloween, so sorry for the sloppy bits here and there! ;P

Dana is basically a cool-leaning neutral white creme polish with a very subtle blue sheen. The white has the barest touch of beige to it, so it’s not as harsh as a stark white, but it still looks somewhat on the cool side to me, possibly because of contribution from the blue sheen. To be honest, though, you can barely see the blue once the polish is on the nail, as you can see in the photo above. It’s extremely subtle. In any case, Dana’s a flattering shade of white, and the hint of blue lends a feeling of cleanness to it.

Application was okay, but it wasn’t my favorite. It tended to go on a little patchy, and for some reason, the polish didn’t dry right on my ring finger, and I ended up having to redo the entire nail because it wouldn’t dry enough for me to apply the nail decal. The other nails with Dana were fine, though, so I’m not sure what the problem was. (I always wash my hands with soap and dry them completely before applying nail polish.)

Ledi is a black superfine shimmer. The shimmer is so fine, in fact, that it’s not all that visible, unless you’re actively looking for it, as you can see in the photo. Generally, Ledi will probably look like a black creme to a casual observer, though a closer look reveals a velvety texture from the very fine shimmer, which gives it a finish that reminds me of car paint. The shimmer gives Ledi a subtly more elegant look to it than plain creme, but it’s definitely not immediately obvious. Depending on how closely you stare at your polish, you may not particularly find this one particularly worth getting over a regular black creme. Formula on this one was great, though, and it went on very smoothly.

Tia is a sheer-ish black jelly with a smattering of gold and copper/orange glitters that flash green from certain angles. I like this one a lot, especially how well it layers over Ledi’s subtle shimmer. I didn’t swatch it on its own on a nail this time, but the swatch I did on the Swatch Me cap sticker suggests an opacity level similar to a smoky black top coat, like Sally Hansen’s Big Smoky Top Coat or L’Oreal’s Smoky Top Coat, except with glitter, of course. Glitter payoff is good, with no special placement needed to get the even distribution I have on my middle finger nail. No complaints about this formula, either.

The black cat nail decals worked just fine, though as with nail decals in general, there’s a little bit of a learning curve and patience needed to get the sticker on right. Even on polish that feels dry to the touch,  from my experience, a misplaced sticker may damage the polish and require a complete do-over. It’s best to work carefully and get it right on the first try. These decals are perfectly smooth with two layers of Julep Freedom top coat on top to seal them in.

These nails lasted at least a full week without noticeable damage, and all of it removed relatively easily, including the cat sticker. My only complaint about them is that the nails with Dana somehow looked more and more discolored over the week, and by the end, they looked practically beige. No amount of scrubbing with soap and water seemed to remove the weird brownness, which really bothered me. I have no idea if that’s because of Dana or the top coat or something else. If you have any insight into this, please let me know in the comments – thanks!

Julep October 2014 Maven Box: The Black Magic Collection, Polish Lover Upgrade (with promo codes)

I’m a total sucker for Halloween stuff, it’s no lie. As long as something evokes the magic and fun of the holiday for me, I think I’m a pretty easy sell. Regardless, Julep’s October collection last year was way above-and-beyond fantastic, though, so I had high expectations for this year’s, too. I wasn’t as floored by this month’s colors, but I still saw quite a few I really liked, and it was a better value to just nab the entire Polish Lover Upgrade (all polishes in the collection), rather than picking and choosing, so I just went with that.

I was so excited when my box arrived yesterday. Here’s what was inside, packaged with maroon paper crinkles and glitter-studded black tissue paper:

julep141004

…plus a freebie that I got for ordering three add-ons this month:

julep141004b

Catrina (“[m]arigold yellow crème”) and Karmen (“[g]olden crimson microglitter”) are both from last September’s Cityscape collection and colors that I wished I’d picked up, so I was happy with these. :] I also appreciated that they were separately packaged in their own bag, so I could clearly tell what items were in the beauty freebie. Thanks, Julep!

I love the quote this month, probably because I’m a Poe fan: “There is no beauty without some strangeness.” :] The freebie is a little packet of candy corn, just as in past Octobers.

Here are some closer shots of the colors in my box:

julep141004e

  • Logan (Classic with a Twist), “[s]ultry aubergine shimmer” – the shimmer is superfine and almost looks like a pearl finish
  • DeAnn (Classic with a Twist), “[r]ipe loganberry crème” – this color looks like a deeper version of last August’s Nellie (“[p]ink fuchsia crème”)
  • Shailene (It Girl), “[b]ewitched purple with gold flecks (iridescence)” – this polish looks like a purple (and less golden) version of Candace (“[g]olden chocolate microglitter”) from last September’s Cityscape collection

julep141004f

  • Dana (It Girl), “[w]hite with electric blue sheen (black light reactive)” – the electric blue sheen barely shows up when swatched, but the creamy white has just a touch of beige that should be flattering to wear
  • Ledi (It Girl), “[b]lack pearl shimmer” – the shimmer is also black and very fine, giving it a velvety texture in the bottle that doesn’t seem to show up much when swatched
  • Briana (Boho Glam), “[s]ailor blue crème” – brighter and bluer than last month’s dustier Eliana, not navy in person as it looks in the photo, but a bit lighter and less saturated

FYI, I wouldn’t exactly call it bogus marketing to call attention to Dana being blacklight reactive, but it seems just a tad gimmicky, since many (not all) white compounds are blacklight reactive, and I’d be willing to bet lots of other white and fluorescent nail polishes are blacklight reactive.

julep141004d

  • Margarita (Bombshell), “[p]alace purple crème” – a nice royal/grape-y purple
  • Nancy (Bombshell), “[s]ilvery sage metallic” – though the sage part is a bit of a stretch, to be fully honest
  • Marla (Boho Glam), “[b]urgundy velvet with silver shimmer” – very juicy-looking wine shimmer – yum!

My sister and I both got Nancy, and we just don’t really see too much sage in Nancy. Unlike in the official marketing photos, Nancy doesn’t seem to have a discernible blue-green sheen, which we were disappointed about. I’d probably consider it a very subtly greenish-toned gunmetal metallic, myself. My sister said she may have picked a different box (she got the Bombshell box with Margarita, Nancy, and the Night Shift overnight mask) if she’d known Nancy was basically just another slightly differently tinted gunmetal/silver. I’d have to agree with her that the lack of sage-y flash really changes things. :( It’s a nice enough color, but not as interesting without the advertised sheen.

For comparison with Nancy, here’s a few similar Julep colors:

julep141004g julep141004h

These are the add-ons I threw in:

julep141004c

  • Black cat nail decals – my family has always owned black cats, and I’m really partial to them :]
  • Tia (Boho Glam), “[c]opper and gold glittered black jelly” – the featured add-on this month
  • Queen Anne (It Girl) “[l]ilac confetti microglitter” – Julep’s third anniversary commemorative polish from this August

And, finally, the promo codes:

  • 30% off an order – DROP30
  • 30% off Night Shift Sleeping Mask – SLEEP30

Despite the couple marketing choices that made me raise an eyebrow a little, it’s a varied-enough collection, and I’m still excited about trying these colors out. What did you think of this month’s collection?

Sorry for the lack of swatches lately, by the way. I’ve been way busier with work lately and feeling exhausted, so it’s been tough to feel up to painting my nails. I hope I can find the energy to swatch some of these new colors for you all sometime, though! Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting. :]

The Lady Varnishes The Werewolf Code

This week, I’ve been wearing The Werewolf Code from  The Lady Varnishes, from her Harry Potter-themed Where Everything is MagiCOOL collection. It’s a medium-dark gray-brown jelly liberally dosed with iridescent shimmer and glitter of varying sizes that shifts from green to blue. The color/effect combination is so interesting and really reminds me of labradorite, so I had to pick it up when I saw it in her Etsy store.

Here’s three coats in natural light, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat:

The sparkle is a little more focused in indoor fluorescent lighting (sorry for the dry skin, hehe):

Either way, it’s a lovely polish. Nothing to complain about with the formula, but it’s worth noting that the  glitters are so dense that you might want to take some extra care to watch out for glitter danglers at the nail tips. I had a couple that ended up causing premature chips later because I was a little careless in my usual excitement and impatience. I don’t blame that on the polish, though, since it’s easily fixed before drying. TWC goes on smoothly and dries very fast, though like with most jellies, I found it needed three coats for opacity.

I got my bottle with a fresh-cut rose scent, and phew, it’s powerful stuff! My hands still smell like roses almost a week later.

I found it interesting that TWC could maybe pass for an edgier work-appropriate color, since the dark taupe base is such a typical fall neutral, and the shimmer and glitter aren’t overpowering in person. I’m lucky that I can wear whatever color I want at work, but if your work’s borderline conservative, maybe this could still pass muster while not being too boring. ;]